Lawsuits filed by the State of California and Planned Parenthood regarding the Trump administration’s change to Title X could significantly impact Pasadena City College (PCC) students’ ability to receive family planning services.
Title X is a federal grant program that provides comprehensive and confidential family planning and preventive health services. The Trump administration recently amended the rule to state that “none of the funds appropriated for Title X may be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
California argued that this new stipulation places California’s family planning services in a difficult position.
“If existing healthcare providers are forced to decide whether to provide full and accurate information to patients or forgo federal Title X funding,” the lawsuit stated, “numerous providers will have no choice but to sacrifice needed funds, to the detriment of the patients they serve.”
Planned Parenthood filed a similar lawsuit in conjunction with the American Medical Association.
PCC’s Student Health Center (SHC) is reliant on organizations that utilize Title X funding as the center only offers a limited variety of pregnancy services.
The SHC offers pregnancy tests and consultations with its staff at no charge. They also offer birth control pills and emergency contraception, but these are not covered by the mandatory Student Health Fee. Because PCC operates outside of Title X funding, these service are only available for an additional fee.
“The health fee was just increased,” said PCC Associate Dean of Special Services Ketmani Kouanchao. “There wasn’t enough budget from the Student Health Fee [to offer these services for free].”
According to Kouanchao, after a student is pregnant, or if they can’t afford the fee, “[PCC] refers them to an outside agency.”
PCC’s pregnancy services end at conception.
These outside agencies, according to Kouanchao, include Planned Parenthood and faith-based crisis pregnancy centers. As such, the result of these lawsuits will affect PCC’s student body, but the expected results vary from organization to organization.
“We’ve had a long-time relationship with the PCC campus and the Student Health Center,” said Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley Planned Parenthood’s Vice President of External Affairs Julianne Hines. “Students and those with low income will be the most impacted group.”
According to Hines, Pasadena Planned Parenthood has been a regular part of the public health care system since it opened over 100 years ago. In California, approximately 70 percent of Title X recipients are served by Planned Parenthood.
“This gag rule is an all-out attack on Planned Parenthood,” said Hines. “It is incredibly damaging to people who need these services.”
Title X allows Planned Parenthood to implement a “price-scaling” system; the cost of services offered varies based on a person’s ability to pay. Hines stated that the new Title X rules would affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to reduce prices in this manner. This will decrease access to services for those who do not have health insurance and who do not qualify for Family PACT, California’s low-income family planning program.
PCC’s SHC offers limited family planning assistance, said Hines, and refers many students out to Planned Parenthood in order to receive long-term contraceptives and many post-conception services, including termination of pregnancy.
“We are the only real provider some of these students have access to,” said Hines.
Hines stated that the redirection of funding to crisis pregnancy centers is dangerous because generally these centers are not licensed healthcare providers, unlike Planned Parenthood. According to Hines, these centers rarely offer even simple services like birth control.
“Their whole goal is to ensure that women do not utilize their right to have an abortion,” said Hines.
According to a study by Washington University in Saint Louis, access to free contraceptives — like the ones offered at Planned Parenthood — is shown to reduce the rate of abortions, especially among teens and young adults.
Despite the information provided by Planned Parenthood, many crisis pregnancy centers argue that the changes to Title X will benefit the public.
“It could have a big impact,” said Anne Hennessy, Executive Director of the Right to Life League — a pro-life, Christian organization based in Pasadena — regarding successful implementation of the new rule and a favorable ruling for the Trump administration.
Hennessy said that the redirection of funding to faith-based organizations like hers could help improve access to counseling services for PCC students, with the goal of reducing abortion rates in the area.
The Right to Life League is currently funded through private donors. However, Hennessy indicated that the League may consider government funding in the future in order to increase access to anti-abortion counseling for the community.
Hennessy went on to state that it is dangerous for young women to visit abortion providing clinics, like Planned Parenthood, when they have “a tornado in their brain.” She believes that the stress of college can make students who visit such clinics vulnerable to the “greedy abortion agencies,” and therefor, the new changes to Title X are advantageous to PCC students.
Planned Parenthood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, but many pro-life organizations base similar beliefs on misleading statistics, often cited by lawmakers.
Kouanchao has temporarily filled the position of Student Health Coordinator — which is usually held by a registered nurse — since it was vacated. She operates under the consultation of the Student Health Center’s medical staff. Kouanchao stated that the department is actively looking to fill the position, but it has been vacant since June 2018.
The updated Title X rule is set to take effect on May 3 unless blocked by courts as a result of the lawsuits.